Seriously, Netflix has been doing great things with animation recently. So, it’s no wonder that they’ve gained two Oscar nominations for Best Animated Feature Film this year. And, though the smart money will be on Toy Story 4 because of all the reasons, there’s every chance that the streaming service could walk away with a prize in that category. After all, Klaus was the surprise winner at this year’s BAFTAs. It was the unexpected hit of their Christmas output. Mixing beautiful animation, a talented voice cast, and a charming story, Klaus brought new life to the oft-told origin story of Jolly Old Saint Nick. But it’s not their only output this Christmas time that really resonated with audiences. The French animation about a severed hand really did prove to be quite a success. Even though that statement just feels wrong.
Have you ever watched The Addams Family and wondered what Cousin It’s story is? If so, this could well be the film for you. One of Netflix’s latest animated feature films tells the story of a severed hand trying to make its way back to its body. It is one part flashback and one part action film. It’s the greatest animation that I’ve seen focused around a severed hand but it’s possible that I just haven’t been watching the right films. I Lost My Body is one of those films that you hear about and think “hmm, that sounds weird” and then, after watching, you wonder why nobody thought of it before. Anthrophomising missing body parts seems mad but it actually creates something very sweet and sentimental.
You might have heard of phantom limb syndrome, in which a patient who is missing a limb will still feel sensations in it. Well, I Lost My Body is almost the opposite of that. A severed hand wakes up in a hospital room and, using the memories it shares with its former owner, the hand makes its way across town to reunite with its body. This journey sees it live through encounters with birds, death-defying leaps, and plenty of flashbacks, the hand takes us on the journey that led to it being cut off. We know that we’re going to see what happened but it takes its sweet time. Suspense really is the order of the day. Imagine Homeward Bound but instead of lovable pets trying to get home, it’s a hand that’s been cut away from its arm.
This film really comes to life during the scenes in which the hand makes its way across the city. Parts of it feel like the Pickle Rick episode of Rick and Morty and that’s definitely not a bad thing. The hand knows things and will use them however he needs to get to his final destination. We see it coming up against birds, rodents, cars, and rooftops. Seeing the city from the hand’s point of view really does create a kind of horror narrative. Everything is so big and dangerous but all that matters is finding your way back home.
A journey that is powered by the memories that we see in flashback. The story of the poor orphan boy, Naoufel, and the journey he takes in life. Starting as the central point of a loving family, to a lonely pizza boy, to an apprentice with romantic aspirations. His life is clearly pushing him towards Gabrielle, a librarian. It’s just a shame that he decides to follow such a creepy path to her. No part of Naoufel’s life turns out as he planned but he tries to find a way to come to terms with it. He tries to find joy where he can and make it work for him.
I Lost My Body is a weird film and I’m sure that people will have heard the summary and ignored it. Yet, it is a really sweet love story and a deep look back over the life of one young man. It brings so many different ideas together in one unusual but captivating narrative. Co-written by Guillaume Laurant who brought us Amélie, there is plenty of mushy romantic stuff in the mix and it brings everything together in a quirky and totally original experience. Yes, parts of the narrative (the romance) feel like something we’ve seen before but the other half it totally new and engaging. This is the kind of film that you have to see to believe and, once you have, you’ll want to see it again.